Sunday, January 6, 2013
Commando:The Autobiography Of Johnny Ramone
What can you say about The Ramones that has not already been said? That they forever changed music history by intercepting rock music and injecting it with a heavy dose of adrenaline and attitude. Famous for being contemporaries and friends with fellow new wave bands Blondie, The Talking Heads, The Clash, The B-52'S, Patti Smith, and The Sex Pistols. Well the library now owns Commando:The Autobiography Of Johnny Ramone. Read on and I will give a brief description of the book.
The book is shaped like a giant children's boardbook but for adults. As you can see in the above picture, the cover comes alive with the contrasting red and blue colors and with the image of Johnny Ramone demonstrating his fierce playing style. Born John William Cummings, the book reveals much about the private life of Johnny Ramone and is a beautiful scrapbook full of nostalgia and interesting testimonials by Johnny's Wife Linda Ramone/Cummings, Eddie Vedder, Joey Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone, amongst others. He also shares his thoughts on contemporaries/friends like Patti Smith, Television, and The MC5.
The book right off the bat states that Johnny Ramone was not a nice guy. He was combative, rude, grouchy, unsympathetic, and truly punk in nearly every way. There are several surprises in the book. Such as his dislike for some of his contemporaries like Deborah Harry and The Talking Heads (he refers to them as "intellectuals").
There are lot of fun little descriptions throughout the book. Many having to do with Johnny's penchant for losing his temper and inflicting violence on several people. At one point he actually beat up Joey Ramone for being late to a movie date they had.
Johnny Ramone was a proud American and also a Republican. People are often surprised by this fact. That one of the innovators of the punk scene was a Republican. Johnny explains it best when he recalls a moment in which he was driving his Cadillac and a group of young punks accused him of not being punk because he drove a Cadillac. Johnny responded by telling the boys that he wrote the damn book on punk and he could do anything he wanted and it would be punk.
We also get a glimpse into the more human side of Johnny. He was a huge baseball fan. Loved to drink American beer and demonstrated a solid work ethic by saving his money after every show instead of splurging as his bandmates did. Johnny set a goal to make 1 million dollars so that he could retire. He eventually acheived that goal in the late 90's. Another perk of the book is found toward the end and is a compilation of lists created by Johnny himself. They range from Johnny's top ten baseball players, top ten bands, top ten Ramone's songs, horror films, television series, etc.
So without giving away too much, I will close by saying that the book is an absolute delight and was quite poignant in its own way. Please give it a try. Enjoy.